Just three years after the closure of RAF Kinloss and the threat of losing RAF Lossiemouth the Moray economy is thriving.
That was the message being sent this week by the Chairman of the Moray Economic Partnership (MEP), which itself evolved at a time when the need for the region to move away from its dependence on the presence of the RAF was recognised as essential.
In an article published in the Scotsman newspaper MEP chairman John Cowe pointed to encouraging figures that revealed there were 92 business start-ups recorded by Moray Business Gateway in the first nine months of 2014/15.
A further sign of major sustainable recovery in Moray came from figures that showed 84% of businesses started in the region a year ago were still trading.
The former businessman and now Moray councillor said: “As a general rule, economic growth brings with it an expanding population, and Moray has the fastest growing population in Scotland, with the number of people living in the area increasing by more than five times the national average between mid-2012 and mid-2013 (and much more rapidly than neighbouring Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands).
“There are now almost 95,000 people living here, so we are well on course to our target population of 97,000 by 2023, and wages have also been growing in Moray.”
MEP evolved from the joint Task Force formed during the campaign to save Kinloss and Lossiemouth from closure. That was ultimately a successful campaign with the Army subsequently moving in at Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth chosen to remain at the expense of RAF Leuchars in Fife.
Signs of recovery for the region have been steady with the MEP at the forefront in ensuring diversification – with Mr Cowe pointing to the “vital” help in that from the Scottish Government.
He said: “In delivering such a positive economic climate in Moray despite the odds, support from the MEP and the Scottish Government has undoubtedly been vital. Yet the underlying condition of the economy and the appeal of the area have made a big difference.
“Many of those who left the RAF when Kinloss closed down remained in the area and set up new businesses because the quality of life here is quite simply fantastic.
“I believe there is a powerful entrepreneurial spirit in the area, which helps to explain why there are so many well-known family businesses here – Baxters, William Grant & Sons, Gordon & MacPhail and Walkers spring to mind.
“These businesses have passed down through generations of the same family and continue to be successful today.”